british american tobacco p.l.c. sustainability report 2009 - Evolving our approach to dialogue


Our companies have been conducting independently assured and facilitated dialogue for 10 years. During this time we have continued to evolve our approach. In our early dialogue sessions we asked large and diverse groups of stakeholders about their expectations of a responsible tobacco business. The issues raised in these dialogues led to smaller sessions that allowed us to discuss in more detail, with experts, topics such as supply chain practices or harm reduction. We also held dialogues involving particular stakeholder groups, such as employees, consumers or suppliers.

Evolving our approach to dialogueDialogue has been instrumental in changing the way we think about our business over the past 10 years. In common with many other organisations, it has helped us to take stakeholder views into account and has enabled us to make better business decisions.

You can read more about what we have learned from dialogue on Opens in new window.

We are exploring how we might adapt our approach and build on our experience to move from listening to stakeholders’ concerns and comments, to the joint development of plans to drive our sustainability agenda goals. We aim to incorporate a number of elements into our approach to achieve this:

  • Engagement with a wider range of stakeholders, in order to make sure that we are considering everything we should. We will continue to invite those who are more critical of us and those who will be directly impacted by the outcomes. This will mean fewer sessions but each dialogue will include larger numbers of stakeholders.
  • Greater involvement from a wider range of our own senior managers in the dialogue process to enhance commitment and understanding within the business.
  • A shift in focus from gathering expectations or feedback on existing proposals to generating new plans, ideas and activities.

These elements have already influenced our approach and you can see in the Supply chain section how they have shaped our recent dialogue session around our supply chain goal.

Comment from
Ernst & Young LLP

As well as interviewing stakeholder engagement staff at headquarters and regional level, we reviewed stakeholder engagement activities in four locations. During interviews we discussed how stakeholder dialogue had been used to inform decision making. For example, we saw evidence that British American Tobacco has entered into dialogue with key stakeholders on the subject of anti-illicit trade to help inform its activities in this area.